Robbinsdale driver accused of dragging trooper

  • Article by: MARY LYNN SMITH , a nd TIM HARLOW
  • Updated: November 20, 2008 - 10:31 PM

The man has six DWI convictions and has been charged with another in this incident.

Derek Thompson

Photo: Minnesota Department of Corrections,

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A Robbinsdale man, who has been convicted six times of drunken driving and arrested numerous times while intoxicated, remains in jail after an incident Saturday in which he is accused of dragging a state trooper about 50 feet while trying to drive away.

Derek Alan Thompson, 36, was charged Tuesday with felony first-degree drunken driving and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle. He also was charged with fourth-degree felony assault, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.

Thompson was first convicted of drunken driving in 1991. Since then, he's racked up 11 other convictions, including fleeing a police officer, having no driver's license, careless driving and refusing to take a chemical test.

After his last drunken driving conviction in 2004, Thompson was sentenced to serve 28 months in prison and is on supervised release until Dec. 2010, said spokeswoman Shari Burt.

According to the criminal complaint, a state tooper stopped to help what appeared to be a stranded motorist on Hwy. 169 near County Road 81. The Jeep's hood was up and Thompson appeared to be trying to figure out why his car stalled but eventually got it to start.

Trooper Dan Dixon noticed Thompson had difficulty keeping his balance, his eyes were watery and his speech was slurred, the complaint said. Thompson reportedly refused to take a field sobriety test but agreed to take a breath test, which showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.237 percent. The legal limit is 0.08.

When Dixon told him he was under arrest, Thompson allegedly punched the trooper and ran to his Jeep. The trooper's attempt to use a Taser to stop Thompson failed. Dixon reached into the Jeep to try to stop the suspect and was dragged 40 to 50 feet, according to the complaint.

Lt. Mark Peterson, a State Patrol spokesman, said the trooper freed himself from the Jeep, jumped into his squad car and pursued the suspect along with other squad cars. The chase ended shortly after Thompson crashed through a chain-link fence to Hwy. 169 in Brooklyn Park and led police east on Interstate Hwy. 94.

Thompson was taken to Hennepin County jail, where he remained in custody Thursday.

Jean Mulvey, executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Minnesota, said Thompson's conviction record for drunken driving is unusually long but "there are many others with that many and more," she said.

"We continue to try to change the law," Melvey said. "And we continue to try to get sentences imposed. But a lot of people think that it's just a traffic violation, there's no injury, we're going to give them the benefit of the doubt one more time."

"But my question is how many one more times can we give people? How many chances would you get if you walked out to the highway with a loaded gun and shot a bullet off? Would they give you three chances before it became a felony?'' Melvey said. "What [the drunk driver] is doing is taking a 2,000-pound weapon and aiming it at the general public."

Staff writer Abby Simons contributed to this report.

mlsmith@startribune.com • 612-673-4788

tharlow@startribune.com • 612-673-7768

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